A study finds that teenagers who smoke, or expoesed to second-hand smoke, face a much higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome, disorders associated with obesity that increases the chances of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
In the study, published Monday in the American Heart Association online journal Circulation, researchers found that 6 percent of 12- to 19-year-olds had metabolic syndrome and that the prevalence increased with exposure to tobacco smoke.
"This is the first study to link this syndrome, which most people associate with obesity, to secondhand smoke," said Dr. Michael Weitzman of the University of Rochester in New York, who led the study.
Weitzman's team looked at data on 2,273 adolescents aged 12 to 19, and found those who were overweight and had been exposed to tobacco smoke were most likely to have the metabolic syndrome.
Only 1.2 percent of those in the study whose cotinine levels indicated no exposure to smoke had the metabolic syndrome, while 8.7 percent of those who smoked had the syndrome and 5.4 percent of those with levels indicating exposure to secondhand smoke did.
And it was worse for overweight teens. The researchers found that 23.6 percent of overweight teen smokers had metabolic syndrome.
"So being around smokers can increase the risk by fivefold, while active smoking increases the sixfold," Weitzman said. "And the effects occur at low levels of exposure."
Because metabolic syndrome often leads to serious medical problems later in life, "the 30 percent or more of children growing up in households with a smoker are at vastly increased risk for morbidity and mortality," he said.